By Ekemini Simon
The Akwa Ibom State Government has finally succumbed to pressure from the organized Labour over their planned review of civil servants salaries.
It could be recalled that the State Government had recently, via circular No. GHU/AKS/S/175/VOL.I/38 of June 25, 2020, undertaken a unilateral review of the Consolidated Akwa Ibom State Enhanced Public
Service Salary (CONAKESS) table which was earlier adopted by the New National Minimum Wage Agreement of January 01, 2020.
This action by Government resulted in varying degrees of shortfalls in the salaries of civil servants for the month of June 2020.
The Labour force had threatened a showdown if State Government would go ahead to review the salary of civil servants in the State.
The State Government had gone ahead to deduct salaries of some workers depending on their level in the June salary paid.
But on Monday, June 6, 2020, the Akwa Ibom State Government bowed to pressure from the Organized Labour when they withdrew the Circular on the review of civil servants’ salaries with a promise to refund in July 2020 salary shortfalls experienced in June salary.
The decision was taken in a meeting held between leadership of organized Labour in the State and government representative which were the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Head of Civil Service.
In a circular signed by the respective Chairmen of Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress and sent to their members, the Organized Labour noted that the State Government has agreed for a withdrawal within two weeks, what they described as the obnoxious wage review circular and a reversal to the status quo ante, and the refund of all shortfalls to civil servants salaries occasioned by the circular.
They added “The Organised Labour appreciates His Excellency for towing the path of truth and justice on the matter and also call on him to give similar attention to other pending issues before His Excellency’s table especially the quick resolution of the numerous concerns of Akwa Ibom State Health workers.”
They assured that they will continue to count on the Governor’s support and solidarity as the Labour force marches on in the struggle for the rights and privileges of our workers.
When contacted, the Chairman of NLC, Comrade Sunny James assured that the State Government has discarded the plan to review Civil Servants salaries even under consultation.
He noted that the Organized Labour will always resist attempt for a downward review of workers salaries.
Comrade James said the only time they can consider such a review would be if the revenue accruing the State fall below the ability of the State government to pay salaries of civil servants.
He added “If it gets that worse, the government will still have to sit down with Labour leaders and discuss it. You can’t sit on your own and take such a decision.
“And I can tell you that even if it gets to such a point, the highest we can allow in the review would be N1,000 or N2,000. Presently, what we are getting as revenue as a State is still high and you still have N6 billion to N7 billion to play with after payment of salaries. So, we can’t accept such a review under that circumstance.”